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2008 Deadline featured huge trades

by Adam Schwartz
Contrary to popular belief, NHL general managers don't always wait for deadline day to make a deal. In fact, some of the biggest trades have been made weeks or even months prior to the trade deadline. Last season, though, the blockbusters did take place at the last minute.

Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Brad Richards and Cristobal Huet were all dealt on Feb. 26, the day of last season's trade deadline, and helped their new teams to varying degrees.

Here are some of the key deals from last season:

FEB. 11

The Carolina Hurricanes trade Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman to the Ottawa Senators for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves.

At the time it was thought Ottawa got the better of this trade, getting a veteran defensive defenseman who had won the Stanley Cup in Commodore and a proven goal-scorer in Stillman for Corvo and an unproven asset in Eaves. A year later, however, Stillman and Commodore have fled Ottawa, while Corvo is one of the Hurricanes' better defensemen, seeing significant power-play time. Eaves plays a limited role as a depth forward.

FEB. 26

The Atlanta Thrashers trade Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 2008 first-round pick.

Aside from star center Evgeni Malkin, Hossa has been the best linemate Sidney Crosby has had in his NHL career. Hossa had 12 goals and 26 points in Pittsburgh's 20-game run to the Stanley Cup Final where the Penguins fell to the Red Wings in six games. Hossa left for Detroit in the summer, but Pascal Dupuis regularly plays alongside Crosby. Armstrong, who played with Crosby before the deal, is missed by the Penguins this season. Ditto for Christensen and his slick shootout moves. Esposito played for Canada's gold-medal winning team in the World Junior Championship, scoring 3 goals in 6 games. He had 42 points in 35 games for the Montreal Juniors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before suffering a season-ending knee injury. With the No. 29 pick, the Thrashers selected Daultan Leveille, who was considered one of the fastest skaters in the 2008 Entry Draft. He has 7 goals and 13 points in 32 games at Michigan State. 

The Buffalo Sabres trade Brian Campbell and a 2008 seventh-round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Steve Bernier and a 2008 first-round pick.

Campbell had 19 points in 20 regular-season games with the Sharks, but wasn't as effective in the playoffs, with just 7 points in 13 games and the Sharks went out in the second round of the playoffs for the third-consecutive year. After Bernier failed to help guide the Sabres into the playoffs, they traded him to the Canucks for a pair of draft picks; Bernier is on pace this season to set career-highs in goals, assists and points. With the No. 26 pick in the first round, the Sabres drafted Tyler Ennis, an undersized (5-foot-9, 146 pounds) but skilled playmaker. Ennis is among the Western Hockey League's top scorers with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Sharks used the seventh-round pick (No. 194) on right wing Drew Daniels, who has 24 points in 41 games with Sioux City of the United States Hockey League.

The Dallas Stars traded Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen and a 2009 fourth-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist.

Smith has played well despite Tampa Bay's struggles this season, but is battling to stay healthy. Like Smith, Halpern has been limited due to injury this season. Richards helped the Stars to their first Western Conference Final since 2000. After a disappointing start to this season, Dallas is back in the playoff mix in the Western Conference, but he won't be much help down the stretch -- a broken right wrist suffered Feb. 16 will sideline him 6-8 weeks. Holmqvist played two games for the Stars and left for Sweden this season.

The Montreal Canadiens traded Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals for a 2009 second-round draft pick.

This was the surprise move of the trade deadline, but it paid off for Caps GM George McPhee. Huet backstopped the Capitals' memorable run to the Southeast Division title and first playoff berth since 2003, going 11-2-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average and two shutouts. Washington fell in overtime in Game 7 in the first round against the Flyers, finishing a goal short of their first playoff-series win since 1998. The deal allowed the Canadiens to hand the starting goalie job to Carey Price, who went 12-3-0 with a 2.13 GAA and two shutouts as Montreal finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference. After beating the Bruins in the first round, the Canadiens exited against the Flyers in the conference semifinals.

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